Of course, with the #MeToo movement, it was inevitable that many parts of our pop culture would be re-examined through the lens of today. Molly Ringwald decided to do that with her own films, while talking with NPR this past weekend.
One thing that was mentioned, not by Ringwald, but by the writer of the article, was a specific line from Sixteen Candles.
“I’ve got Caroline in the bedroom right now passed out cold. I could violate her 10 different ways if I wanted to.”
That was from Jake Ryan, the guy Ringwald’s character wanted throughout the film, and who was played by Michael Schoeffling.
Seeing those words absent context definitely is a little disturbing, however it’s important to note one word in that line – “could.” By that point in the movie, it was abundantly obvious that Schoeffling’s character wasn’t at all interested in the girl in question. Just that simple fact makes that troubling line far less menacing. Now, you can start having your issues about that same girl apparently taking the virginity of the “nerd” who drove her away from the party that night if you like.
The point is, even looking at this film through the hyper-sensitive lens we’ve created today, it is still really not that bad. Sure, Ringwald has her reservations, but she’s looking at it as a mother of teens now. Honestly, I’d be wondering if there was something very wrong with her if she wasn’t cringing at least a little, not over her own performance in the film, but over some of the drunken flamboyance in it.
John Hughes made films about the things teens actually did, after their parents and teachers told them not to do “all the things.” He depicted the choices among the taboos, knowing that whenever you told a teen not to do something, you were often begging them to disobey. That is what real teenagers did then, do now, and will undoubtedly continue to do until the end of the human race.
But, even when Hughes would hint at potentially terrible behavior, there was that recognition of limits. In this case, Hughes had Jake Ryan point out that he could do terrible things with his girlfriend, but that was all. Stating you understand the fact that you could do something terrible is not the same thing as actually doing it. If we’ve gone so far off the rails that even discussing potential bad ideas is verboten, we really are lost.
Image: 20th Century Fox